Our guest today is Larry Zaccaro, scientist, author, game designer, Toastmaster, and more. Larry is the author of children’s book Amy and the Orca and the insightfully philosophical novel Convergent. He invented the card game Wordplay, is a member of the Mystic Aquarium Toastmasters Club, and in his free time he helps his son who founded Tox Brewing in New London, Connecticut.
I talk to a lot of people in multi-level marketing who lament that their team won’t do the work. This is a problem across different markets and companies, and it is rooted in the way the team is built.
First, let’s talk about how a multi-level marketing company is supposed to work. The concept is simple. You have a company that makes a great product that stands apart from it’s competition in a significant way. Generally it is a premium product that delivers a premium result for a premium price, and there’s no good way to get across that value proposition in a retail setting.
Multi-level marketing, also known as “Network Marketing”, takes the concept of word of mouth to the next level by turning passionate customers and fans into the sales force. You’re already telling all your friends about the products you use, why not get paid for it?
It’s a great model until you try to scale and rush it, and that’s the short answer to the question above.
There is a very small percentage of the population who is naturally outgoing enough to do this effectively without detailed, step by step support and hand holding. Even they must become passionate fans of the product before they will put their reputation behind the business.
Here are a few tips for multi-level marketers who would like a more engaged team.
Spoiler: it’s all about the products!
Consumer, Fan, or Fanatic, then Distributor
The multi-level marketing concept works by the distributors being drawn from the most passionate customers. Too many companies and team leaders are getting greedy and trying to skip this crucial first step.
If you are leading with the “opportunity” and not the product, you will not succeed because you are selling nothing more than a pyramid scheme.
There are three kinds of customers: consumers, fans, and fanatics.
Consumers like the product. They consume it and are happy to do so. That’s all they want. They don’t want to sell it. They just want to use it.
Fans like the product and want to share it. They are willing to work hard enough to get their own stuff for free and maybe make a couple bucks, but they do not want to start a business.
Fanatics believe in the product so intensively that they believe that it is a tragedy that there are people who are not familiar with the products. They will start a business, and probably walk through fire, to share this message.
People in all three categories can be quite satisfied where they are if you look at each one individually. The Consumer is happy to consumer. The Fan is happy to do a little work for a little reward. The Fanatic is happy to build a real business.
It all starts when they love the products.
Right Goals, Right Results
If you are not seeing your customers in these three categories of Consumers, Fans, and Fanatics, then you will encounter great frustration. You will also notice that none of these three groups are really motivated by the money. Why? Because there are easier ways to make money. Certainly not for everyone, but the kind of person who could build an empire in your company could do it anywhere else as well.
For the Consumer, you can do nothing more than stoke their love of the product. Don’t bug them about becoming a distributor. They don’t want or need the money, or at least they are not interested in doing the work to get that money. By pushing them you will do nothing but push them away, and eventually lose them as a customer.
For the Fan, applaud the work they do. Let them know that more is possible, but don’t pressure them. They know what is possible, and they can also feel when you are putting your needs ahead of theirs. They don’t need to build a business, so don’t act like you need them to.
For the Fanatic, that’s where you build them up as a fellow business owner. If every person on the team is a “business owner”, the the true entrepreneur will look around, see people less committed than themselves and think they’re in the wrong place. However, if you look at and treat your Fanatics as a class apart, they will appreciate the complement and rise to the identity you create for them.
It’s About the Product, not the multi-level marketing opportunity
If you are not leading with the product, then you’re just selling a get rich quick scheme, and it will fail because, while you may be able to sell this dream to your people, they will not be able to sell it to yours. The product, however, sells itself.
Focus first on the product.
The most successful multi-level marketers I know talk almost entirely about the product. Some may make an occasional mention of the opportunity. One lists five ways they help people, and number five is financial, but it’s never the focus.
When people hear you lead with how great the opportunity is, they are unsure about many things but they are sure about one thing: The opportunity is not that great. Even if the opportunity was great, it ceases to be once everyone’s in it.
However, if you lead with the product, they’re willing to accept that possibility, and the growth of the company is a compelling argument for that quality. You don’t want to tell people they want to sell your product. You want to get them so excited about the product that they say, “how can I get in on that?”
There’s No Engagement If You Don’t Work For It
One place I see people fail in multi-level marketing is that they lead with the opportunity and they give it away to anyone.
If they don’t have to work to get in, they won’t care if they lose it. If any random person off the street can walk in, pay a few bucks for a kit, and get started, then there’s no real investment.
You may think that the start up cost is an investment that will make people feel engaged. You would be wrong. If you told me that for $97, I’d have a 5% chance of making $10,000, I’d make that investment. I’d try it for a month or two, then, when I didn’t see return, I’d walk away. It was a gamble. It didn’t pay off. On to the next thing.
Money is replaceable. Time is not. If you make me invest my time, or even better, my ego, then I’ll stick with it a lot longer.
Rather than let anyone into the program, make them work for it. Require them to use the products for three months before you’ll even talk to them about the affiliate program. Make them record a testimonial video and share it online. Make them use a variety of products. Make them commit as a customer and evangelist before you invite them into the exclusive club of distributors.
By doing this, you have their mental investment. They have become passionate about the products. They have publicly committed to the products. They’ve worked for the privilege of being part of the team.
Once they’re on the team, you can remind them of how hard it was to get in and how easy it would be to fall out.
Their Dreams, Not Yours
Why are they doing this? Sure, everyone wants more money, but most people aren’t willing to put in the work.
You can tell people how many dollars they can make all day long, but if those dollars aren’t attached to their own goals and dreams, it’s meaningless. They will give up at the first sign of resistance.
$100,000 is just a number. Making sure my child will have a good education is a cause I’d walk through fire for.
For each person on your team, do you know what their dreams and goals are? Are you presenting the payoff in their own terms?
If you are, have you convinced them that the outcome they desire is possible? It doesn’t matter who else has done it. You have to talk to each team member and show them individually how their assets allow them to succeed.
When I work with prospective clients in my Solution Oriented Marketing program, the focus is always on their needs, never mine. People care about their own dreams, not yours.
Growth Is Not Proof of Opportunity
There is a finite market for the product that your company produces. At a certain point, the market will become crowded and high earning will become difficult. It never becomes impossible because a superlative entrepreneur can make anything work, but difficult is enough to prevent your team from thriving.
Don’t use the growth of the company as evidence of how great the opportunity. Amazon is one of the fastest growing companies in the world, and their workers are underpaid and miserable.
Instead, use the growth as evidence that the products are the best products. The opportunity is not in the math. It’s in the value of what you sell.
Yes, the products again. That’s the key. You sell products, not dreams.
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